Fact Check

Aquaman Crystal Makes It Possible to Breathe Underwater?

Does a newly-created 'Aquaman Crystal' allow anyone to breathe underwater?

Published Oct 7, 2014

Claim:   Scientists have created an "Aquaman Crystal" which will allow anyone to breathe underwater.


TRUE: Scientists in Denmark have synthesized a compound that could one day lead to the elimination of scuba tanks.
FALSE: Technology to enable underwater breathing is currently available.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2014]

Is this true? Scientists Have Created Crystals That Make Breathing Underwater a Reality.


Origins:   Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark created a bit of a stir when they announced that a newly synthesized crystalline material could store oxygen in high concentrations.

But just how concentrated are we talking here? The original version of the report, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical Science in October 2014, stated that a spoonful of material was enough to absorb all of the oxygen in a room.

Can you imagine the possibilities? The Internet did, and soon the web was full of rumors about a miracle crystal that would allow anyone to breathe underwater. But that isn't exactly true. While the Aquaman Crystal can store a high concentration of oxygen, it would take about 10 liters of compound to suck up all of the oxygen in an average size room.

A representative for Syddansk University issued a statement regarding the compound's efficiency.

"I am just updating our story on our website, because it turns out that Prf McKenzie made a calculation error. Pls note that it is not a SPOONFUL of this stuff, that we need to rid a room of oxygen. It is a bucket (10 litres). We apologize."

Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have developed a compound that could, one day, make it possible for scuba divers to ditch their tanks. Unfortunately, that day is not today.

Mckenzie said:

When the material is saturated with oxygen, it can be compared to an oxygen tank containing pure oxygen under pressure — the difference is that this material can hold three times as much oxygen. This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them. But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it 'filters' and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water.

Last updated:   7 October 2014

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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